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Pecan Crème Brûlée French Toast

This image courtesy of Gentl & Hyers

Brunch has always been a favorite meal of ours, and it’s often overlooked when people choose to entertain. We love the not-too-early, not-too-late, lazy-day feel it gives, and it always has an air of informality, which we prefer when cooking for guests. Plus you can offer both savory and sweet foods for brunch, tempting everyone’s palate. Pecan Crème Brûlée French Toast falls into the sweet category. Unlike true crème brûlée, in which a crust of crunchy sweetness gilds the top, here the gooey sweetness covers the bottom of the dish. Our crunch comes from the pecans, the perfect foil for soft, soaked challah. This is a great way to use day-old bread with no loss of quality.

6 to 8 servings

Preparation Time10 min

Preparation Time - Text10 minutes, plus overnight to chill

Cooking Time35 min

Cooking Methodbaking

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timea day or more

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian

Equipmentbaking/gratin dish

Mealbreakfast, brunch

Taste and Texturecreamy, nutty, sweet

Type of Dishcasserole

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) chopped pecans
  • 1 medium loaf challah, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1¾ cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) pecan halves

Instructions

  1. EQUIPMENT: One 10-inch gratin dish

  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup and cook over low heat, stirring, until the better melts and the ingredients are well mixed and just a bit bubbly around the edges.

  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the oil and chopped pecans. Pour the syrup into the gratin dish.

  4. Place the challah slices on top of the pecan syrup in the gratin dish, overlapping them slightly.

  5. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Whisk in the milk and vanilla. Pour this mixture over the challah so the bread can soak up the liquid. Push the challah slices under the liquid until they have absorbed as much as they can.

  6. Sprinkle the pecan halves over the top, cover with aluminum foil, and place the dish in the refrigerator to chill overnight. The challah will absorb the maximum amount of liquid, creating a French toast that is evenly cooked.

  7. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the dish for 30 to 35 minutes, until the egg mixture is set. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the French toast is golden brown and crusty on the top. Serve warm.

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